When you play music by yourself, you only have to keep in rhythm with yourself. When you play music with other people, not only do you need to keep in rhythm with everyone else, but each person who is playing needs to find the rhythm and keep time together. Sometimes that’s an easy task while other times it’s downright frustrating, maybe even excruciatingly painful.
I’ve experienced both of those situations in the past. I’ve experienced playing with people with whom you fall into rhythm easily, almost effortlessly and seamlessly. I’ve also experienced playing with people with whom it seems that the rhythm is elusive, impossible to find. Those situations are difficult and frustrating.
I’ve taken a few days to step away for the sake of planning and looking at the upcoming year in my own ministry. I’ve been blessed to have had access to a house in the Outer Banks, just a 3 minute walk from the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. While I was there, I took advantage of the time and sat on the beach.
The beach has always been a special place to me. I grew up along the coast of Connecticut on Long Island Sound. The beach was always a big part of my summers. I can easily conjure up mental images of my mom sitting in her beach chair at one of the two beaches in my hometown. Those days felt endless, in the best way possible. During those days, it seems there was an unbreakable link developed between me and the water. I always find myself going back to the water, the Sound, or the ocean to center myself again.
As I walked towards the beach the other day, I began to hear the waves gently falling on the shoreline even before I could see them. The gentle lapping of the waves reminded me of the beat of a drum with whom I am trying to get into rhythm. This rhythm continues whether I am here or not and in many ways, it was a reminder to me of God’s rhythm.
Oftentimes, I find myself “playing music” alone. I find what I think is a good rhythm and stick with it. Then I come back to the Master Musician and find that the rhythm that I have had all along is not as good as I thought it was. In fact, my rhythm is out of time, it’s misaligned, it’s frustratingly off from the rhythm of the Master Musician.
As I listened to the waves and watched them come upon the shore, as the water crawled up and then retracted itself from the shoreline, I was reminded who was the chief timekeeper here. Despite popular belief, it’s not me. As much as I might try to make my rhythm the rhythm of the day, that fight only results in frustration, it results in bad rhythm and messy music.
How often do I find myself out of sync and tempo with the Master Musician. I get ahead or fall behind, mostly getting ahead. I rush, I push the rhythm, trying desperately to make the other musicians keep up. Who are those other musicians? My friends. My family. My co-workers. My teammates. My God.
The rhythm of the sea and its waves is a reminder to me of the need to keep time with the Master Musician. It’s a metronome of sorts, directing me towards what is perfect, especially when I think that I’ve achieved that perfect rhythm on my own.
When faced with my own arrhythmia against the rhythm of the Master Musician, I have a choice. I can either keep fighting that rhythm, which results in frustration and bad music. Or I can get in step to that rhythm, follow it, take the lead of the rhythm which is perfect.
No matter what, I will find myself falling out of step with the rhythm of the One whose rhythm is perfect. When I find myself in those times, I need to find my back into rhythm again, I need to say, “I will follow.”
May the times between my rhythm synchronization be short. May I find myself constantly coming back to the perfect rhythm to find my rhythm in the One whose rhythm is perfect. May I not fight it but just follow it in order that we can make beautiful music together.